Andy Murray entered the London Olympic Games at a fairly low ebb four years ago. Earlier in the summer, he had come up short against Roger Federer in the Wimbledon final. Murray must have wondered whether the Grand Slam glory he had pursued for so long would ever arrive.
The Olympics provided a salve for his wounds. Murray breezed to the gold medal match and nonchalantly dispatched Federer. It wasn't Wimbledon (although it was staged there) and it did not make up for the previous defeat. But as Murray thanked a partisan Centre Court crowd, it was hard not to feel that a weight had been lifted off his shoulders.
A month later, he won the US Open.
The comparison between Murray's watershed moment and Brazil's Olympic football breakthrough on Saturday night is an imperfect one for a number of reasons (the Scot's success was not set against a wider story of decline, for one). But when the dust settles on a dramatic night in Rio de Janeiro, those seeking to contextualise and measure Brazil's 5-4 victory over Germany in a penalty shootout (following a 1-1 stalemate) may find instructive – and inspiring – echoes here.
Read my take on Brazil's Olympic success at ESPN FC.